Microsoft Xbox One Vs Sony PS4: Choose Your Weapon

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First Published on Deccan Chronicle.

Video games are good for your health. A bad screen is what hurts your eyes the most. You are not going to argue with National Geographic, are you?. This Diwali, rather than buying your kid a fancy phone to click stupid selfies, you should invest in a video game console. Make him/her smart, will you?

Now that you have decided to buy a console, comes the biggest question: Xbox One or PS4? Before answering this, I must acknowledge that I own a PS4 and my flatmate has an Xbox One. Yes, I have access to both gaming platforms. Without further ado, here’s how they stack-up against each other.

In terms of styling, Sony’s console absolutely trashes the Xbox One. Despite being relatively smaller, the PS4 accommodates the power brick inside the console. In Xbox it tags along with power cable.

Xbox’s chunky profile has a few advantages though. Not only it feels robust, but also has plenty of heat vents. For a machine that runs graphics intensive stuff, proper ventilation is ideal.

Connectivity And Ports
When it comes to connectors, the PS4 covers essentials such as two USB ports, optical out, HDMI-in, Ethernet, and AUX. Microsoft has been generous on this front. The Xbox One offers HDMI in, HDMI out, three USB ports, Ethernet port, Kinect sensor port, S/PDIF connector, and an IR Port. Both consoles have Blue-ray drives.

Hands-down, the Xbox One controller beats Sony’s DualShock 4. Microsoft’s joypad is pleasant to hold due to its curvy design. It is lighter and the placement of analogue sticks is good too.

Both controllers offer haptic feedback. However, Microsoft’s joypad offers more than just a few shakes. The Xbox One controller’s rumble motors work independently and offer a sense of direction. For instance, in Forza 5, you can feel the vibrations change in-sync with car’s direction.

In comparison, the DualShock 4 controller feels heavy and blocky. That’s probably because it accommodates a touchpad. It is like a laptop trackpad with swipe and click feature. In Killzone: Shadow Fall, a player has to use the touchpad to control a drone. Not many developers are making use of it though. One good thing about DualShock is that it contains a rechargeable battery. Xbox One’s controller on the other hand, requires two AAA batteries.

The PS4 and Xbox One are powered by similar chipsets developed by AMD. These APUs (Accelerated Processing Units) combine the capabilities of CPU (Central Processing Unit) and GPU (Graphics Processing Unit). In PS4, two quad-core Jaguar processors have been clocked at 1.6. The Xbox counterpart runs at a slightly higher 1.7 GHz clock speed. Sony takes a clear lead in terms of GPU capabilities though. It features 18 compute units, compared to 12 of Xbox. Moreover, PS4’s 8 GB DDR5 RAM theoretically performs better than the Xbox’s 8 GB DDR3 module.

The PS4 is actually better at churning out pixels. For instance, a few games including Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag and Batman: Arkham Knight run at 900p on Xbox as opposed to 1080p (Full HD) on PS4. Considering that you sit at least 6 feet away from the HDTV, the difference is hardly noticeable though. Take a look at side-by-side comparison done by the folks at IGN.

Software And Additional Features
As far as the user-interface is concerned, Microsoft has an edge with its modern dashboard. The tile-based UI is elegant and appealing. Since it is based on Windows, you get access to Internet Explorer, Skype, Xbox Video, and many more downloadable apps. Don’t worry about typing using a game controller; Microsoft’s SmartGlass mobile app takes care of that. The Xbox One also lets you multitask using the ‘Snap’ feature. The best thing is that despite so many options, the software design is not cluttered at all.

The PS4 home screen is absolutely trash. Sony also offers a web browser and a few apps. However, it is so badly designed that it makes you want to move on to the game, as soon as possible. From a gamers’ perspective, it can actually be a good thing.

Games Library
Gamers would have already chosen their weapon of choice. Uncharted fans will pick-up the PS4, no matter how good the Xbox One controller is. Similarly, Halo and Gears of War fanboys will not care about PS4’s raw power.

If you are new to the gaming though, your perspective towards these consoles is most likely to be balanced. In this case, most games such as the Call Of Duty, Far Cry, FIFA, and NFS will be available on both platforms.

Things get tricky when it comes down to exclusive titles. Sony has a relatively bigger catalogue of exclusives that includes absolutely amazing Uncharted and God of War series. Then, there are some titles such as The last of Us with cinematic treatment.

Microsoft’s exclusives are spearheaded by straight-out shooters such as Halo, Gears of Wars, and Titanfall. In short, as a kid if you enjoyed Contra more than Mario, consider the Xbox One. Those of you were more into saving Mario’s princess, should go for the PS4.

One thing I have noticed recently is that Xbox One titles are relatively cheaper than that of the PS4. For instance, Far Cry 4 costs Rs 2400 on Xbox One, whereas you have to shell out Rs 3400 on PS4. However, I don’t know how long it will remain this way.

Microsoft recently promised backward compatibility for the Xbox One by the year-end. When the Redmond based company made this announcement at the E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) 2015, not only gamers, but even its Japanese rival was surprised. This is what Sony’s Shuhei Yoshida said, “It was surprising, I didn’t think it was possible. There must be lots of engineering effort…” (Reference Link) While Xbox One will soon let its customers enjoy hundreds of Xbox 360 titles by the year-end, Sony does not have such plans.

Looking at the long-term strategy, Sony has futuristic VR (Virtual Reality) headset Project Morpheus in the making. Microsoft too has the Hololens in its kitty, but I’m not sure whether it will be integrated with Xbox One any time soon.

The Xbox One is cheaper than the PS4. The Xbox One (500 GB) with one controller and a free game will cost you around Rs 35,000. Sony’s console with same storage will set you back for Rs 38,500. Microsoft’s console also comes in 1 TB version. It can be yours for Rs 40,000. Sony too has released 1 TB PS4 in other countries, but it is yet to reach the Indian shores.

I’m sure all this information would have helped you make a decision. As far as I am concerned, I have invested money in PS4, but end-up spending more time on Xbox One. But then, I’m not a hardcore gamer any more.

Chandrakant 'CK' Isi

Technology editor, movie buff, and wannabe space explorer.